The Benefits of Mutual Funds : according to The Mutual Fund Education Alliance.
Professional Investment Management.
By pooling the money of thousands of investors, mutual funds provide full-time, high-level professional management that few individual investors can afford to obtain independently. Such management can be important to achieving results in today's complex markets.
Mutual funds invest in a broad range of securities. This limits investment risk by reducing the effect of a possible decline in the value of any one security. Mutual fund shareowners can benefit from diversification techniques usually available only to investors wealthy enough to buy significant positions in a wide variety of securities.
If you tried to create your own diversified portfolio of 50 stocks, you'd need at least $100,000 and you'd pay thousands of dollars in commissions to assemble your portfolio. A mutual fund lets you participate in a diversified portfolio for as little as $1,000, and sometimes less.
Convenience and Flexibility.
You own just one security rather than many, yet enjoy the benefits of a diversified portfolio and a wide range of services. Fund managers decide what securities to trade, clip the bond coupons, collect the interest payments and see that your dividends on portfolio securities are received and your rights exercised. It's easy to purchase and redeem mutual fund shares, either directly online or with a phone call.
Quick, Personalized Service.
Most mutual funds now offer extensive websites with a host of shareholder services for immediate access to information about your fund account. Or a phone call puts you in touch with a trained investment specialist at a mutual fund company who can provide information you can use to make your own investment choices, assist you with buying and selling your mutual funds shares, and answer questions about your mutual fund account status.
Ease of Investing
You may open or add to your account and conduct transactions or business with the mutual fund by mail, telephone or bank wire. You can even arrange for automatic monthly investments by authorizing electronic fund transfers from your checking account in any amount and on a date you choose.
Total Liquidity, Easy Withdrawal
You can easily redeem your shares anytime you need cash by letter, telephone, bank wire or check, depending on the fund. Your proceeds are usually available within a day or two.
Life Cycle Planning
With no-load mutual funds, you can link your investment plans to future individual and family needs -- and make changes as your life cycles change. You can invest in growth funds for future college tuition needs, then move to income mutual funds for retirement, and adjust your investments as your needs change throughout your life. With no-load mutual funds, there are no commissions to pay when you change your investments.
Market Cycle Planning
For investors who understand how to actively manage their portfolio, mutual fund investments can be moved as market conditions change. You can place your funds in equities when the market is on the upswing and move into money market mutual funds on the downswing or take any number of steps to ensure that your investments are meeting your needs in changing market climates. A word of caution: since it is impossible to predict what the market will do at any point in time, staying on course with a long-term, diversified investment view is recommended for most investors.
Shareholders receive regular reports from the mutual funds, including details of transactions on a year-to-date basis. The current net asset value of your shares (the price at which you may purchase or redeem them) appears in the mutual fund price listings of daily newspapers. You can also obtain pricing and performance results for the all mutual funds at this site, or it can be obtained by phone from the mutual funds.
If you want steady monthly income, many funds allow you to arrange for monthly fixed checks to be sent to you, first by distributing some or all of the income and then, if necessary, by dipping into your principal.
You can receive all dividend payments in cash. Or you can have them reinvested in the fund free of charge, in which case the dividends are automatically compounded. This can make a significant contribution to your long-term investment results. With some funds you can elect to have your dividends from income paid in cash and your capital gains distributions reinvested.
Automatic Direct Deposit
You can usually arrange to have regular, third-party payments -- such as Social Security or pension checks -- deposited directly into your fund account. This puts your money to work immediately, without waiting to clear your checking account, and it saves you from worrying about checks being lost in the mail.
With your own portfolio of stocks and bonds, you would have to do your own recordkeeping of purchases, sales, dividends, interest, short-term and long-term gains and losses. Mutual funds provide confirmation of your transactions and necessary tax forms to help you keep track of your investments and tax reporting.
When you own shares in a mutual fund, you own securities in many companies without having to worry about keeping stock certificates in safe deposit boxes or sending them by registered mail. You don't even have to worry about handling the mutual fund stock certificates; the fund maintains your account on its books and sends you periodic statements keeping track of all your transactions.
Retirement and College Plans
Mutual funds are well suited to Individual Retirement Accounts and most funds offer IRA-approved prototype and master plans for individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and Keogh, 403(b), SEP-IRA and 401(k) retirement plans. Funds also make it easy to invest -- for college, children or other long-term goals. Many offer special investment products or programs tailored specifically for investments for children and college.
The internet provides a fast, convenient way for investors to access financial information. A host of services are available to the online investor including direct access to no-load companies.
With many mutual funds, if you choose not to reinvest your stock or bond mutual funds dividends, you can arrange to have them swept into your money market fund automatically. You get all the advantages of both accounts with no extra effort.
Asset Management Accounts
These master accounts, available from many of the larger fund groups, enable you to manage all your financial service needs under a single umbrella from unlimited check writing and automatic bill paying to discount brokerage and credit card accounts.
Some mutual fund shares are marginable. You may buy them on margin or use them as collateral to borrow money from your bank or broker. Call your fund company for details.